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Presented By: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

EEB Tuesday Lunch Seminar - How mammals ran: Morphology and function of lumbar vertebrae in early placental mammals

Anne Kort, Michigan Fellow, UM Museum of Paleontology

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This event is part of our weekly Tuesday seminar series.

Mammals dorsoventrally flex and extend the spine during locomotion, in stark contrast with the lateral flexion that is used by most other vertebrates. This movement is enabled by lumbar vertebrae, which form a unique region of the spine that acts like a hinge between the ribcage and pelvis. The morphology of lumbar vertebrae varies widely across extant mammals, reflecting differences in function across locomotor modes. I explored the origin of this variation in morphology and function using fossils from 65-30 million years ago, the period when modern mammalian diversity was first being established.

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